Gardener's Grapevine 2011.06.29

Written by David Green.

Sunday afternoon in Morenci is quiet and peaceful on my front porch, with a few cars going by, some kids on bikes, and the birds tweeting. Does it get much more relaxing? Soon the “lake parade” will start—people who weekend at the lake will head home and Main Street will be a parade route.

Many people drive from Point A to Point B and never really pay attention to most of the world going by. There are so many interesting and beautiful things and some quirky things also. My great-grandparents liked to take rides in the country and see how the crops were doing. They were farmers and such things made a huge impact on their lives. I drive close to an hour to work and most of it is in the country. I watch barns and homes being built and some being torn down. I see farmers every day in their fields.

It used to be that farmers separated their fields with fence rows which would overgrow with weeds, flowers and all manner of wild animals. This set property lines, but with the onset of mega farms, we see fewer and fewer fence rows. They’ve been replaced by miles of open farm fields.

A friend of mine asked me to write about wildflowers. She said it’s hard to know the types of flowers along the roadside because she has lived all over the country and every place she lives there are different wildflowers. I can see her point, however, I have lived here my entire life and only know a handful of wildflowers. Some of the ones I knew as a child are not seen so much anymore. The one that comes to mind is Queen Anne’s Lace. It used to be everywhere. My grandmother Katherine Wollter lives on Stateline Road, south of town, and she would put food coloring in a vase and I would pick Queen Anne’s Lace and place it in the vase. In the morning it would be the color of the food coloring and I was an amazed little kid. I did see a large amount of it over by Seneca along the road last week.

A lot of our native wildflowers that used to be roadside have gone away due to spraying and mowing. The county and state do this routinely. Sure, it keeps things tidy and the visibility is better, but I personally would rather see the flowers. The spindly plant with blue flowers on top is chicory. It is really pretty in bunches. There is still plenty of goldenrod for those of you with the wonderful allergies. Goldenrod seems to be hardy in a lot of conditions as it is so many different places.

Do any of you remember “ditch lilies?” Orange lilies that bloomed in late June or early July and were usually found in ditches. A lot of people dug them up and put them in their yards. They are a wildflower also. Mary Lampe told me the tall purple flowers that you sometimes see are called shooting fireworks—I always knew them as wild phlox.

There are hundreds of wildflowers, most of which are actually weeds that flower. There is a wonderful book on wildflowers called “Wildflowers of Michigan.” It tells what might pop up in different areas of the state and has a picture along with a description of the plant and its flower. I will warn you if you like wildflowers, be careful digging them up as some are protected due to endangerment like wild trillium. Another thing to point out is if you purchase wildflower seed beware, along with flowers you will positively get lots of weed seeds, too. But wildflowers are weeds, so does it matter?

Congratulations to the Erskin family on being chosen Garden of the Month. They live on East Street North and have a very beautiful home enhanced by many plants and flowers.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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